Skills needs in south Scotland

Border Safeguard Apprentices Fraser Wheelans, Mathew Stanners, Milly Coltherd, Archie Penman and Lewis Robertson at the launch of the  Regional Skills Investment Plan
Border Safeguard Apprentices Fraser Wheelans, Mathew Stanners, Milly Coltherd, Archie Penman and Lewis Robertson at the launch of the Regional Skills Investment Plan

Access to education, skills and training is a key part of an ambitious plan being launched across the south of Scotland.

Skills Development Scotland and the newly created South of Scotland Economic Partnership (SOSEP) are joining forces to work with partners across the region to ensure the workforce has the skills required by local employers.

The Regional Skills Investment Plan aims to provide a greater choice of career pathways for the region’s young people and offer more opportunities for upskilling and reskilling to the current workforce.

The plan recognises the unique characteristics of the south of Scotland economy and the importance of its rural context. It is estimated that the south of Scotland is home to 126,100 jobs, with wholesale and retail, human health and social work, agriculture, forestry and fishing and manufacturing being the biggest sectors.

Chair of SOSEP Russel Griggs said: “The plan is a product of deep engagement with numerous partner organisations, employers, parents and, critically, young people across the region. This has formed the basis of strong regional partnership working that will enable successful delivery.

“The plan must be flexible to reflect new opportunities and deal with further external challenges. SOSEP has begun that journey by investing about £7 million in expanding what the two local colleges can do to make sure we can train our local people in different things, in different places and in different ways.”

The plan was welcomed by Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity: “This is more good news for the south of Scotland, after the Scottish Parliament passed the Act which will create a new enterprise agency for the region.

“While the agency will play a central role in regenerating the region’s economy, people are the cornerstone of that regeneration. It is vital that they have access to the best training and skills development opportunities possible.

“I welcome the launch of the skills investment plan today which sets out how that goal can be achieved.”